Tusk & Dawn

Sakleshpur, Karnataka

USP: Wild, off-the-road experience

With the Western Ghats for their backyard, the coffee district of Sakleshpur as their hometown, and a name like Tusk & Dawn, you conjure up an emerald green postcard, a misty cloud framing the hills, an elephant ambling by.

When Tusk & Dawn makes its appearance on a clearing by the hillside you know your imagination was spot on. It's late in the afternoon and the first thing on the cards is a healthy Malnad-style lunch with akki rotti, spicy curries and hot steaming rice and rasam. A quick check-in and the room with a huge glass wall gives you a view of the promising jungle behind. The bathroom has a fern garden and a little board that announces that the bugs that accompany you through your stay are friendly. I hear the distinct call of a peacock… maybe its time to go exploring.

There's a fish pond connected to an island by a log bridge; sun yourself on a rock and soak up your thoughts watching schools of tadpoles. A slow jog up a neighbouring hill takes you to a machan from where you can scan around for a gorgeous view of rolling hills bathed in green Shola forests, the wind gushing in from the valleys to nuzzle your face. The only other sound is that of twittering birds.

Then there's excitement over the off-roading drive. We settle cheerfully on wooden planks at the back of a four-wheel drive pick-up truck. The rocky “road” tosses us up in the air, we scream, we cling on to ropes and to the truck's sides, duck thorny jungle bushes, battle aching knees, and hurtle down, only to shoot up another hill to catch the sunset. The sudden chill in the air, the sight of undulating hills, the descending clouds and the orange haze in the sky makes the ride worth it.

Hot bhajjis and tea welcome us back to all things warm, and as the dark descends slowly and the crickets begin their symphony, we're gently reminded that power (generator-run) will be switched off by 11 p.m. We wiggle our toes in front of a bonfire, and gape at the starlit sky and the firefly-lit inky black jungle behind.

We make a lazy morning start to a nearby waterfall, and are rewarded with icy cold water that gives your back and head an invigorating pounding massage if you dare to sit beneath it. Our young guide also points out, elephant footprints on the wayside, maybe a day old…

(The writer was at Tusk & Dawn at the invitation of the resort.)

Tariff

Tusk & Dawn charges Rs. 2,100 per person per night including breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea and snacks, and one basic off-roading experience. There are six cottages and dormitory accommodation for groups will soon be available. For details look up www.tuskanddawn.com. Call their Bangalore office on 080-40915393.

How to get there

Tusk & Dawn is 240 km from Bangalore, and 150 km from Mangalore (nearest airport). The road from Bangalore via Kunigal-Channarayapatna-Hassan-Sakleshpur on the Bangalore-Mangalore highway (NH 48) is excellent.

Things to do

Go on a guided trek into the neighbouring hills and forest.

You must try the off-roading experience on a four-wheel drive.

Pitch tents for an overnighter in the jungle.

Trek to a nearby waterfall and sit under it; give your back a massage.

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